Friday, 5 November 2010

A Week in the Dales

Last week was half term and the opportunity for a much needed break with the family. Of course it is also an opportunity to explore and photograph a new area and these two things are not entirely compatible. We stayed in a very comfortable and well equipped cottage in the Wharfedale village of Conistone; a wonderful spot for walking and photography and, although the conditions were unexceptional for the most part, it was good to be able to find potential compositions within easy walking distance.

This panorama is the view from a small hill behind the village. It was taken shortly after sunrise and is the view northwards taking in the nearby village of Kilnsey with its dramatic crag.

Talking of drama, there are few more impressive geological sights than Malham Cove. The light is a little harsh on this photograph of the cove, it being early afternoon on a bright October day. Nonetheless, you get some sense of the scale of this natural limestone formation.

Of course, Malham Cove is believed to be the site of a large waterfall, created by a melting glacier. That would have been something to see but there are still some very picturesque falls in the area including those and Aysgarth and (pictured below) West Burton.

I first came across West Burton falls when passing through the area on the way to the opening night of a Joe Cornish exhibition at his gallery in Northallerton. That time it was early spring and the surrounding trees were still bare. Even then it was a lovely scene but I knew it must look even better with foliage on the trees and  determined to revisit later in the year. The image above is the result.

The subject of 'smooth' water is a source of regular debate in photographic magazines. It seems to be one of those things that polarises opinion but I am very much in favour; for me it simply creates an appealing result in many cases. I consider photography to be an art form and art is always going to generate debate based on people's subjective views.

One unexpected treat was the discovery that our visit to Fountains Abbey near Ripon coincided with a special evening which involved the abbey being floodlit. If ever there was an excuse for getting the tripod out, this was it and the family were all very patient as I spent a happy hour and a half competing with the many other camera wielding visitors. Of course, I had to be patient myself, often waiting for quite some time for people to move out of the way.

It was worth waiting for though as a nearly full moon was perfectly placed to add to the atmosphere. When I was setting up to take the photograph below, my father struck up a conversation with one of the guides who said that, in 16 years of working there, she had never before seen this combination of floodlit abbey and alignment of the moon. The only way I can think this scene could be improved would be if it had come together a little earlier when there was still some colour in the sky. You can see the difference that makes from the picture above.

The only downside to a very enjoyable evening was to find myself the apparent and unwitting competitor with another photographer with similar equipment (i.e. tripod and reasonably high end camera). I first thought his partner's continued presence in my composition was accidental but a sly glance round at me and no subsequent movement made me think otherwise. She only moved when I finally gave up, packed up and walked away - watched by the woman and her photographer partner.


  1. Competition with an expensive camera? I suggest adding a water pistol to your arsenal - as ever, no charge for my advice!

  2. Your photograph of the waterfall is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The one through the window is magnificent. I told your wife before how much I loved it.

  3. And, as ever Matt, an imaginative solution. If I could find one that could be adjusted for power it would double up as a spray for those flower shots where adding a few water drops is called for.

  4. I think these are some of your best ever pics (OK, I know I'm biased...) The waterfall ones are magical.

  5. Hi Phil, I just popped over from your lovely wife's blog to say welcome to blogland. :)

    Your photos are absolutely stunning, I particularly like the last one.